U.N.-adopted report on Qaddafi rights record is “abhorrent,” says Amnesty USA chief

UN Watch Objects in Plenary, Reads Out
Countries’ Shameful Praise of Qaddafi

Council President Overrules Objection, Defends Report

GENEVA, March 14, 2012 —  A U.N. report ridiculed worldwide for lavishing praise on the Qaddafi regime’s human rights record was unanimously adopted today by the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, with president Laura Dupuy Lasserre overruling the objection made in the plenary by UN Watch. (Click here for video; see text below.)

After it was first exposed by UN Watch last year, the report card giving high marks to Qaddafi was mocked by the New York Times, The Economist and other major media worldwide, causing a red-faced UN to postpone the report’s adoption repeatedly — until today.

Said the Times:

“Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements. Evidently, within the 47-nation council, some pots are loath to call kettles black, at least until events force their hand. Last week Libya was suspended from the body, and the report was shelved.”

Even ardent defenders of the council have recently slammed the report. After UN Watch’s recent protest, Suzanne Nossel, the new head of Amnesty USA, and previously the  Obama Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, where she was responsible for U.S.  engagement at the U.N. Human Rights Council, described the council’s report as “abhorrent” and called for a complete “redo.”

The report does contain some critical recommendations of Libya made by the US and about ten other democracies.  But the vast majority of the report documents praise for the regime.


Ghost of Qaddafi Continues to Haunt UN Rights Council

Testimony delivered before UN Human Rights Council
by UN Watch director Hillel Neuer, March 14, 2012.

Thank you, Madam President.

In the 16th session last year we outlined our grave concerns with this report, which records this council’s 2010 review of Libya’s human rights record under the rule of Col. Moammar Qaddafi.

We recall that the report before us includes the following:

  • “Pakistan praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s commitment to human rights.”
  • “Algeria noted the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to promote human rights.”
  • “The Islamic Republic of Iran noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had implemented a number of international human rights instruments and had cooperated with relevant treaty bodies.”
  • “Qatar praised the legal framework for the protection of human rights and freedoms.”
  • “Sudan noted the country’s positive experience in achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in the education of women.”
  • “The Syrian Arab Republic praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its serious commitment to and interaction with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. It commended the country for its democratic regime.”
  • “North Korea praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its achievements in the protection of human rights.”
  • “Palestine commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for the consultations held with civil society in the preparation of the national report, which demonstrated its commitment to the improved enjoyment of human rights. Palestine praised the country for the Great Green Document on Human Rights.”
  • “Brazil noted the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s economic and social progress.”

Madam President,

As delegates here know, for years UN Watch brought victims of Libyan torture to testify before this council, including Bulgarian nurse Kristyana Valchyeva, Ashraf al-Hajouj and the brother of Fathi Eljahmi.  Libyan delegates rudely interrupted them, and called them liars.

In May 2010, we pleaded for Libya not to be elected to this council. Tragically, our voice was ignored; it was elected in great numbers. Not a single country spoke in opposition.

Madam President,

The 2010 review that is before us today does not live up to basic standards. It should be completely redone.

For the victims, is that too much to ask?  Thank you, Madam President.

Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre (Uruguay)
Overrules UN Watch’s Objection

(Video here at 44:42)

Thank you. Allow me simply to point out that changes of government are normal, and the responsibilities of states continue, and what is important is the commitment undertaken by governments and the implementation thereof. […]

I propose that the council adopt the decision on the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Libya, as you currently see it on the screen.

I see no objection to approving this decision, therefore it is hereby adopted. Thank you very much.

We have concluded this segment of the UPR for today. Thank you very much.

UN Watch